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Chennai tobacco vendors compliance to India's cigarette and other tobacco products Act (COTPA) 2003— A descriptive evaluation

 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Sathyabama Dental College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission17-Oct-2019
Date of Decision18-Oct-2019
Date of Acceptance17-May-2020
Date of Web Publication17-Oct-2020

Correspondence Address:
V Anu,
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Sathyabama Dental College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijc.IJC_908_19

PMID: 33402580

How to cite this URL:
Anu V, Soundharyasri B, Srisruthi P, Madhumithra K G, Sreemadhumitha H, Sornambiga A. Chennai tobacco vendors compliance to India's cigarette and other tobacco products Act (COTPA) 2003— A descriptive evaluation. Indian J Cancer [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2021 Jan 19]. Available from:

Tobacco is one of the leading causes of cancer and is considered as the major public health problem worldwide resulting in 5.4 million deaths every year.[1] Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR) reports that in India, every year almost 1,60,000 people are diagnosed with cancer, 4.5 million develop heart disease, and 3.9 million develop chronic obstructive lung disease due to tobacco use.[2],[3] According to the National Family Health Survey 2005–06 (NFHS-3) in India, about 57% of men and 10.8% of women between 15 and 49 years use some form of tobacco.[4] There was an increase in tobacco usage in any form within a period of 7 years between NFHS-2 and NFHS-3. However, the NFHS-4 (2014–2015) reports, tobacco use among men has fallen from 57% in 2005–06 to 47% and in females from 10.8% to 6.8%.[5] This reduction in tobacco consumption is mainly due to the implementation of various regulations by the Indian government to combat the menace of tobacco.

The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) put forward that a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship would reduce the use of tobacco products worldwide.[6] India was one among the member countries, which first signed the FCTC and passed a strong comprehensive law, Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Product Act (COTPA) in 2003.[7] COTPA has various sections the key of the sections being prohibition of smoking in public places, ban on advertisements of tobacco products, and prohibition of the sale of tobacco products to minors and within 100 yards of educational institutions. However, the success of any regulations is based on thorough implementation, periodic monitoring, and evaluation.

In Tamil Nadu the use of any form of tobacco among women had decreased from 2.8% in NFHS-3 to 2.2% in NFHS-4 and among men from 40.1% to 31.7%.[5] But, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2 (GATS-2)[8] reveals that among all states in South India, Tamil Nadu reported a higher prevalence of tobacco usage (20%) when compared to GATS-1(16.2%).[9] The GATS-2 also showed that 81.1% of smokers had bought cigarettes at stores from tobacco vendors indicating the easy availability of tobacco products.[8]

Studies conducted in North India report poor compliance with tobacco vendors to COTPA. This study was undertaken with the aim to check the compliance of tobacco vendors in Chennai city, Tamil Nadu towards the requirements of section 5(1)(a) and 6(a) of the Cigarette and other tobacco product act (COTPA).

A cross-sectional study was carried out among tobacco vendors in Chennai, Tamil Nadu after obtaining ethical clearance from the Institutional Human Ethical Committee of Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai, India. Vendors were classified as: (i) Ownership: a. independent, b. chain, c. franchised, d. leased departments, and e. consumer cooperative; (ii) Merchandise offered: a. convenience, b. supermarkets, c. hypermarkets, d. specialty stores, e. departmental store, f. off-price retailer, g. factory outlet, and h. catalog showrooms. Since this is an unobtrusive descriptive evaluation study no informed consent was obtained from the tobacco vendor.

Chennai city was divided into three zones as North, South, and Central based on the parliamentary blocks. Since no data were available on the number of shops selling tobacco products, an attempt was made to carry out an enumerate sampling method covering all point of sale (PoS) who sell tobacco products in each block. Compliance to section 5 (1) (a) and 6 (a) as per COTPA, 2003 was assessed. The checklist to measure the compliance has the following criteria: 1) Any advertisement of cigarettes or any other tobacco product at the PoS. No branded packs or brand names or other promotional messages in the display board. Display board (if any) must be in accordance with COTPA specifications; 2) warning message board and its location based on COTPA specifications; 3) display board message indicating sales of tobacco products to the person below the age of 18 is a punishable offense. The collected data was entered in Microsoft Excel 2013 computer program and then exported to the data editor page of SPSS version 16 for statistical analysis. Descriptive analysis was done and results were generated based on frequencies and percentages at a 95% confidence interval.

The present study was carried out among 1054 shops, of which 140 shops (13.3%) were taken from the North zone, 592 (56.2%) from south zone, and 322 (30.6%) from central zone of Chennai. 809(76.8%) shops were independent and 245(23.2%) were merchandise offered departmental stores. Out of 1054 shops, 962 (91.3%) shops sold tobacco products. Of 962 vendors, 8 (0.8%) vendors had displayed warning messages of which only 1 vendor (0.1%) had the board size, and background color as per the requirements. [Table 1] and [Table 2] show the compliance of tobacco vendors to section 5(1)(a) and 6(a) of COTPA 2003.
Table 1: Compliance of PoS with provisions of section 5 (1) (a) and 6 (a) of COTPA, 2003

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Table 2: Compliance of warning message with provisions of section 5 (1) (a) and 6 (a) of COTPA, 2003

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Compliance studies help in assessing the progress of enforcement and implementation of regulatory laws for the betterment of the public. The World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) recommends periodic monitoring and compliance of smoke-free regulatory laws in each country and recommends the establishment of well-organized functional controlling mechanisms.[6] Even after the implementation of smoke-free laws in many countries, including India, there is still a challenge in strict execution due to lack of enforcement and regulatory infrastructure and mechanisms.

This study shows that the majority of the vendors (99.89%) violate the provisions of Section 5(1)(a) and 6(a) of COTPA 2003. Although 8(0.831%) vendors had displayed warning messages it was not according to the norms. The results of this study are in accordance with Indian studies done by Goel et al. (2014)[10] in three jurisdictions (Chennai city, District Vadodara and District Mohali), Govil et al. (2016)[11] in Ahmedabad, Jain et al. (2016)[12] in Rajasthan, Rath et al.(2018)[13] in Haryana and Shilpashree et al.(2018)[14] at Bengaluru. Such a high rate of violations indicates the poor implementation of COTPA by the regulatory bodies resulting in easy access to tobacco products to minors. Attractive monetary incentives received by the vendors from the tobacco companies and their lack of awareness about COTPA regulations can also be a reason for noncompliance.

Regulatory approaches for tobacco control impacts multisectoral issues, and hence it needs to be implemented actively by strictly following the penalizing measures and assessment of PoS at regular intervals by the regulatory bodies. Only through adequate surveillance, it is possible to implement, and if necessary, to modify existing policies for India to achieve its FCTC target of 30% reduction in tobacco consumption by the year 2025.

The compliance rate of COTPA by the tobacco vendors at the point of sale is very low. In order to increase the compliance rate, awareness programs about COTPA should be conducted for the tobacco vendors and strict enforcement of penalizing measures by the regulatory bodies should be carried out.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

World Health Organization report on global tobacco epidemic, 2008. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Jan 11].  Back to cited text no. 1
Kumar S. India steps up anti-tobacco measures. Lancet 2000;356:1089.  Back to cited text no. 2
Mudur G. India finalizes tobacco control legislation. BMJ 2001;322:386.  Back to cited text no. 3
International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) and Macro International. National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), 2005–06: India: Volume II. Mumbai: IIPS;2007. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Jan 12].  Back to cited text no. 4
International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) and ICF. National Family Health Survey 4 (NFHS-4) 2015-16, India. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Jan 12].  Back to cited text no. 5
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. World Health Organization. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Jan11].  Back to cited text no. 6
An Act enacted by the Parliament of Republic of India by notification in the Official gazette. (Act 32 of 2003); The Cigarettes and other tobacco products prohibition of advertisement and regulation of trade and commerce, production, supply and distribution act; 2003. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Jan 12].  Back to cited text no. 7
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Global Adult Tobacco Survey GATS 2 India 2016-17. Available from: [Last assessed on 2019 Jan 12].  Back to cited text no. 8
Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India: 2009-2010. IIPS, Mumbai and funded by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GOI 2010. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Jan 12].  Back to cited text no. 9
Goel S, Kumar R, Lal P, Tripathi J, Singh RJ, Rathinam A,et al. How compliant are tobacco vendors to India's tobacco control legislation on ban of advertisments at point of sale? A three jurisdictions review. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 2014;15:10637-42.  Back to cited text no. 10
Govil S, Dhyani A, Mall AS. Compliance assessment of tobacco vendors of Ahmedabad city to India's tobacco control legislation. Indian J Community Health 2016;28:374-7.  Back to cited text no. 11
Jain ML, Chauhan M, Singh R. Compliance assessment of cigarette and other tobacco products act in public places of Alwar district of Rajasthan. Indian J. Public Health 2016;60:107-11.  Back to cited text no. 12
Rath R, Krishnan A, Nongkynrih B, Misra P. Assessment of implementation status of cigarettes and other tobacco products act (COTPA) and its awareness among residents in a block of Haryana. Indian J Public Health 2018;62:100-3.  Back to cited text no. 13
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Shilpashree KB, Sampath A, Krishnamurthy A, Madhusudhan S, Prasad M, Chatterjee S. Assessment of compliance with tobacco regulations on ban of advertisements at the point of sale in urban areas of Bengaluru City. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2018;16:322-7.  Back to cited text no. 14
  [Full text]  


  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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